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Teachers Sacking the Sax Teacher - A Plan is Needed

photoman

Daydream Believer
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County Limerick Ireland
Not really a plan to sack him, I'll just call up in the morning and tell him him I won't be coming back.

I've had 9 lessons in 9 weeks, and I actually think I'm going round in circles, or treading water; some euphemism for not moving on, certainly. He teaches at the local music school and I moved there 6 weeks ago. it's convenient for me, being 10 minutes from home, but the average of his pupils (I use the word advisedly) is about 9 3/4. He seems to think I'm that age too, and is determined to keep me playing "Strangers in the Night" for another 2 years.

It's become so that I can't tell him what tunes and scales I'm practicing (and I think playing reasonably well), because I know he'll say - "you're not ready for second octave D, E and F yet". And, I'll think...I was playing G, A and B two weeks ago, too.

So, it's goodbye to my first teacher and hello to my second - me, for now, while I look elsewhere.

The thing is; I'm not stuck for resources. I subscribe to Nigel McGill's Sax School (mentioned in another thread); I even paid a small donation to come here because it's so useful; I have at least 3 printed tutor books, Stephen Howards manual a new e-Book by Rob Buckland and one on improvisation and a folder stuffed with printed manuscipts.

What I'm stuck for, is direction. A routine for practice and moving forward so that I don;t stagnate or become bored with the Sax and lose interest in playing it. I didn't get that sort of direction from the teacher, to be honest, he seemed too tired to think of something new most of the time.

I think I have too many choices at the moment. I enjoy the blues and jazz standards and so maybe the way forward (until I find the right teacher) is to practice scales and tunes that will bring those interests to the fore. Maybe there's another book on it specifically, or maybe I have tools, and I really just need the plan!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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You've given him a good chance. He'll probably mark you down as no talent and no ambition to justify things to himself...

There are some people doing on-line lessons via Skype, havn't tried it myself.

As for direction, that needs to come from you. There are lots of suggestions for tutor books made here. Most guy go in a rock, or jazz, or classical direction, but many tutor boooks cover a mix of styles, throwing in folk & popular tunes as well.

A digital recorder is great for recording and analysing your playing - and as a personal yardstick of your progress.
 

Jeanette

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Well in that case then your sorted! just hope your old teacher is not a member of the forum, could be slightly awkward...

Only if he signs up for skype with him :)))

Seriously though, if it's not working certainly time to change, I can't remember your history re sax and music but if it is coming from no musical background a teacher will be useful but no harm in making some progress on your own for a period of time. Good luck:)

Jx
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
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235
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County Limerick Ireland
Seriously though, if it's not working certainly time to change, I can't remember your history re sax and music but if it is coming from no musical background a teacher will be useful but no harm in making some progress on your own for a period of time. Good luck:) Jx

I'm a professional photographer (photographed many great British, Irish and American rock and blues musicians going back 30 years including Carl Perkins, Ozzy Osbourne and Shane MacGowan to name a few, and I'll be photographing Courtney Pine and many others at the Cork Jazz festival in two week's time - press passes and photo calls already organised).

I also have 25 year background in mental health and psychotherapy practice, teaching and writing, that I did alongside the photography and retired from about 8 years ago.

I owned an Irish music shop selling specialist intruments as a sort of "sideline" for 5 years and my most recent book (published by the Liffey Press in Ireland) is on traditional Irish musicians.

I can read music reasonably well: I played Eb and Bb Cornet in brass bands in the UK as teenager, and rythmn guitar in a rock band until my early 20's. More recently, I played the bouzouki in Irish pub sessions for about 6 years and dabbled with the flute.

I started playing the sax precisely 9 weeks ago and can knock out a tune or two (but my teacher doesnt know about most of them). :)

I don't know Tim Price, but I'll look him up. But, I was considering Nigel McGill for Skype lesson, he's Australian and lives in the UK and runs Sax School, to which I subscribe on a monthly basis and have found some of the video lessons he puts up very accessible (and I have tried a few others).

Thanks for all the suggestions and advice so far. I'll be calling me teacher later. He may well put me down as untalented (he may be right) with no ambition (he may wish to review that on seeing my two very extensive C.V's) but that's what people do to justify themselves sometimes - and he's a good bloke, but more used to teaching children in a fairly pedagogic way.
 
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Clivey

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Edinburgh/Hot Rock off African Coast
Putting your Talent/ lack of Talent aside for a second. It sounds to me that you feel your Ex Teacher may have been holding back your development probably in an attempt to re-enforce your lesson plan. "Been there ,was playing in a band while still struggling through "A Tune a Day 2" which I thought was completely irrelevant back in 1980" . LOL

The method of progression and motivation to continue and improve can be a problem for many musicians . Even very accomplished players can find the whole thing verging on futile if the practice does not ultimately lead to performance. As far as I am concerned if a musician is not ultimately aiming to perform either to a live audience or in a recording medium then all that remains is self indulgent noodling, ala "Sherlock Holmes" which very quickly becomes a giant yawn .

By the sound of what you are saying about your level of ability. I would be tempted to suggest that you take a look at a couple of probable courses of actions.

(1) Get out there . Join or form up with other musicians at any level that will have you .
(2) Start producing music . There are a number of practical threads here on this very Forum you might like to inspect to see if there is anything that takes your fancy. "The Ballad Of the Month" thread is 2 years old and contains resources and links to over 20 pieces of varying level .There is also a "Beginners thread" and also an "Improvisation of the Month" thread which caters to all levels. Also. The Boss here. Pete Thomas has loads of stuff littered all over the site to keep even the most ardent soul busy for decades.

Lastly. I would also suggest that you leave the selection of your next teacher until you have kind of Locked down your musical path. That way you will be able to pick one who is able to empathise with your goals , needs and objectives.
 
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photoman

Daydream Believer
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235
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County Limerick Ireland
Putting your Talent/ lack of Talent aside for a second. It sounds to me that you feel your Ex Teacher may have been holding back your development probably in an attempt to re-enforce your lesson plan. "Been there ,was playing in a band while still struggling through "A Tune a Day 2" which I thought was completely irrelevant back in 1980" . LOL

The method of progression and motivation to continue and improve can be a problem for many musicians . Even very accomplished players can find the whole thing verging on futile if the practice does not ultimately lead to performance. As far as I am concerned if a musician is not ultimately aiming to perform either to a live audience or in a recording medium then all that remains is self indulgent noodling, ala "Sherlock Holmes" which very quickly becomes a giant yawn.

I have just had a long phone chat with my (now ex) teacher. He's a real gentleman, and it was difficult to explain my reasons for not continuing, without seeming rude.

But, I did genuinely explain that although I have not been as enthusiastic about a "hobby" for many years, as I am about playing the Sax (and all things related to it), I was beginning to feel a bit disheartened and lacking in motivation to practice.

I put this down to my own personality, rather than his teaching, method, saying that I probably needed to be challenged and pushed a bit harder than some of the other students he has (average age, 9 years) and that I am someone that loses interest if the going stops getting tough. I suggested that I would have welcomed "homework" on tonguing and slurring tied in with a blues scale (or even a major scale) rather than 3 weeks of tonguing and slurring on the same tune - and no scales at all in 9 weeks, for example.

He made the point that there was no point in getting me to play lots of notes - and faster - if the tone wasn't right, and this had been his plan - to move me on to scales and higher notes on the register, when the tone was perfect. With me, that could take a while - but to be honest, my view, all modesty aside, was that my tone is good enough to be playing a few scales now. I have already taught myself C, D and G and I'm working on a C blues scale.

I think his method was sound, and I couldn't disagree with the basic principle, but it's probably more useful for a child who would perhaps struggle playing slurs on the same tune even for 3 weeks. Then again, not all of them will - and that's really my point; he didn't take account of his student and adapt accordingly.

We ended on good terms and he has "left the door open" for me should I wish to return and even offered to give me the numbers of alternative teachers - which is a mark of the man.

The search is on for a new teacher now.
 
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Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
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1,917
I have just had a long phone chat with my (now ex) teacher. He's a real gentleman, and it was difficult to explain my reasons for not continuing, without seeming rude.

But, I did genuinely explain that although I have not been as enthusiastic about a "hobby" for many years, as I am about playing the Sax (and all things related to it), I was beginning to feel a bit disheartened and lacking in motivation to practice.

I put this down to my own personality, rather than his teaching, method, saying that I probably needed to be challenged and pushed a bit harder than some of the other students he has (average age, 9 years) and that I am someone that loses interest if the going stops getting tough. I suggested that I would have welcomed "homework" on tonguing and slurring tied in with a blues scale (or even a major scale) rather than 3 weeks of tonguing and slurring on the same tune - and no scales at all in 9 weeks, for example.

He made the point that there was no point in getting me to play lots of notes - and faster - if the tone wasn't right, and this had been his plan - to move me on to scales and higher notes on the register, when the tone was pefect. With me, that could take a while - but to be honest, my view, all modesty aside, was that my tone is good enough to be playing a few scales now. I have already taught myself C, D and G and I'm working on a C blues scale.

I think his method was sound, and I couldn't disagree with the basic principle, but it's probably more useful for a child who would perhaps struggle playing slurs on the same tune even for 3 weeks. The again, not all of them will - and that's really my point; he didn't take account of his student and adapt accordingly.

We ended on good terms and he has "left the door open" for me should I wish to return and even offered to give me the numbers of alternative teachers - which is a mark of the man.

The serach is on for new teacher now.
Very diplomatic! in the mean time I would suggest you get a copy of ABRSM scales and arpeggios for saxophone, grades 1-8, only costs about a fiver and will prove to be a step in the right direction for when you get a new teacher.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
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3,444
Locality
manchester
My advice would be to get yourself one or more of the many Guest Spot books that come with cd's with backing track and also play along recordings and set about trying to play one or more of them that should keep your enthusiasm and interest going it did with me anyway and gave me a serious goal to achieve, along with that perhaps a basic teach yourself music book like ABRACADABRA very basic but has the progression in advancing and improving your playing and of course there are always our MR THOMAS's brilliant tutorial books to have a go at .....good luck ....John

ps I don't see why your tone should be the be all and end all of your playing and hold you back from learning all the other stuff you need especially when a good emboushure and tone can take quite a while to achieve
 
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Targa

Among the pigeons
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KIC 8462852
if a musician is not ultimately aiming to perform either to a live audience or in a recording medium then all that remains is self indulgent noodling, ala "Sherlock Holmes" which very quickly becomes a giant yawn .

I think that's about as accurate as your French grammar.
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
I've Just order this lot from Amazon:

Improvising Blues Saxophone: An Introduction to Blues Saxophone Styles, Techniques and Improvisations (Schott Popstyles)
by Nick Beston

Daily Warm-Up Exercises for Saxophone
by Jackie McLean


Sixty for Sax: Progressive studies for unaccompanied saxophone
by Alan Bullard

That should keep me going for a year or two :thumb:
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
Quite. My first thought was "utter cobblers".

p.s. to my post above (about the - additional - practice books).....

I have played in public a lot in my youth in brass bands and rock bands, and recently in Irish sessions and concerts at hotels and conferences on other instruments. For now (and maybe for ever), it's me, the Saxes, a recorder and some backing tracks.

I'll be happy enough with some sense of improvement on the Sax, as time goes by - oh, I might even get the sheet music for that one, too! :)
 
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Nick Wyver

noisy
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Minster On Sea
So, "as far as you are concerned", anyone who plays for their own amusement is just involved in "self-indulgent noodling"?

Why? Does everything you do only have worth if it's for an audience?
 

Guenne

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,250
Locality
Austria
Hi,

I'd be glad to hear what your "Dream teacher" would teach you in a lesson and how.
What are your goals?
I think that songs, etudes (that is the way I look at it) are just a tool, a means of transportation to get somebody in control of the instrument.
I know teachers you could have one lesson with, playing no or just a few notes and get back to your practice room and return a year later for the next lesson :)
I also know one teacher (rather famous in Austria) who locks away the saxes of his beginners in September (giving them back maybe at Christmas time) to make them control the mouthpiece first :)

Cheers,
Günter
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,925
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Your tone will come when it comes. It will change from day to day, month to month, mood to mood and reed to reed. Hopefully it will get better but some days it just won't be there. More important imo is pitch control. So long as you're in tune you'll sound good. Maybe you don't need a teacher. The fundamentals of the saxophone are very straight forward. On the other hand if you're seeing Mr Pine soon....he's not cheap though.....maybe later lol.
 

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